Thursday, January 08, 2004


Some of you may have noticed that I've finally added comments to this blog (thanks to blogspeak). I'm hoping this will result in some interesting discussion and perhaps lead to some additional posts. I only ask that everyone mind their manners and their language, the comments are there for constructive conversation and feedback. Having participated in some stimulating conversations on numerous other baseball blogs I feel confident that they will be used well. As long as I can keep my mom from posting something like "oh, this is so neat!" we should be in good shape.

posted by Cliff at 12:02 AM

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Turnbow tests positive 

Angels reliever Derrick Turnbow has tested positive for a banned steroid. He's the first major league player to do so.

Sort of.

To begin with, Turnbow didn't test positive on an Major League Baseball drug test, but on a U.S. Olympic test. Secondly, the drug he tested positive for is androstenedione (the metabolites 19-norandrosterone and 19-noretiocholanolone were found in his system), known as "andro," the very same legal over-the-counter supplement that Mark McGwire used publicly during his record-setting 1998 season. On top of all that, Turnbow is only a major leaguer by loose definition. He only pitched in eleven major league games in 2003, none in 2002 or 2001, and 24 in 2000. Sounds like a minor leaguer to me, which makes it all the more interesting that he tested positive for a supplement that is banned in the minor leagues. It turns out that minor league testing is only conducted among those players not on their major league affiliate's forty-man roster (this greatly undermines a point I had made earlier this offseason about last years survey testing, in which I assumed for the sake of argument that minor leaguers like Turnbow who were subject to major league testing tested negative because they were subject to more stringent testing in the minors). Which, of course, means that inclusion on the forty-man can be used to protect valuable minor league players who are discovered by their teams to have been using supplements.

What really stands out about Turnbow's positive test is that, much like the results to the survey testing (which I discussed here), this is simply too perfect an occurrence for it not to be suspicious. Somebody had to be the first "major leaguer" to test positive. One can only imagine the firestorm should it have been an established, all-star caliber player. It makes it so much easier on the next guy to test positive that the ice has been broken by a young, no-name, borderline major leaguer like Turnbow. What's more, most of the concern about steroid use has been in connection with inflated offense, especially slugging stats. So why not make the first guy a pitcher. Better yet a middle reliever. It's not like people are going to claim his hold totals are tainted (for what it's worth, Turnbow has one hold in his career). That sounds pretty good, a 25-year-old, no-name relief pitcher who's pitched a total of 35 games in two seasons over four years in the major leagues. How could that be any more toothless a positive test? How about he test positive, not on a MLB test, but on an Olympic test, and for a legal over-the-counter supplement that's not regulated in the majors. Who's going to care about that?!

Too perfect.

As for Turnbow himself, I actually remember seeing him pitch one inning against the Yankees in April of last year when he was called up to replace Francisco Rodriguez, who was on bereavement leave. He seemed like your typical hot-headed fireballing rookie, firing 98-mile-per-hour fastballs, walking one, striking out two and allowing his walk to score. He's not the least likely candidate for a positive test, just the least sensational (the official Angels website doesn't even identify him by name in the headline for the story, just "Angels Pitcher Failed Olympic Drug Test"). Turnbow will be banned from international competition for two years (not like that's going to effect the U.S. team, which didn't even make it into the Olympics), but will not be subject to punishment by Major League Baseball.

If you want more details, including Turnbow's comments, check out that article on the Angels' site.

posted by Cliff at 8:15 PM


There are a pair of new Yankee-oriented baseball blogs out there that are worth checking out. The first I mentioned in my post below, Shawn Bernard's The Greatest Game. The other is called the Daily Lama. Both are just barely a week old. Another New York-based fresh face out there is The Baseball Blog of Oz (BBOZZ), which appears to be penned by a Mets fan (sorry 'bout that Oz).

And since I'm giving shout-outs, while the rest of us have been asleep, Alex Belth has written two outstanding, nay, phenomenal posts on the implications of the Pete Rose confession as they apply to Baseball Prospectus (who broke a Rose-reinstatement story late last summer) and the on-line baseball writing community as a whole. The first of which may be one of the best things Alex has ever written. I like to think of the BRB as the fourth of the four major Yankee blogs out there (at least that is my short-term goal for this blog), but Alex sets the bar so high sometimes that he probably deserves his own category.

Speaking of the BRB, thanks to loyal readers like you and links from kind folks like Alex and Jay Jaffe, I actually broke my all-time single season hits record (set, not surprisingly in October) in December. I take this as a very good sign for this blog and hope that I continue to earn your readership in the coming year. Please feel free to write with comments, criticisms, requests, questions, or kumquats (I'll be especially impressed if you can write me with a kumquat).

posted by Cliff at 12:59 AM

Ace Up Their Sleeve 

I didn't mention the signing of Javier Vazquez in my previous back-from-the-dead post because I think it deserves it's own headline. For those who didn't catch it, Yankees have signed Vazquez to a deal worth a reported $45 million over four years. Yankee fans should be absolutely elated, as their team has just locked up a potential (if not established) ace over his age-27 to 30 seasons at a maximum yearly salary of $12.5 million.

Pity poor Brian Cashman, had he signed Vazquez to a three-year deal with identical annual salaries eleven months from now there would be dancing in the streets of New York. Instead he's forced to trade Nick Johnson for Vazquez because under Steinbrenner's watch the team has been hemorrhaging quality starters like the '98 Marlins, and winds up signing Vazquez while everyone is staggering back to work in the long hazy shadow of the new year.

posted by Cliff at 12:39 AM

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